Need Growing Internationally for Indexers
April 2011

“Need Growing Internationally for Indexers,” Ensign, Apr. 2011, 76–77

Need Growing Internationally for Indexers

All over the world, people are searching for their ancestors.

And all over the world, other people are making that search possible.

FamilySearch indexing, introduced in 2006 and powered by volunteers worldwide, is the process of taking physical records (such as those found on microfilm) and entering the information they contain into a searchable online database.

With 122,000 LDS and non-LDS active indexers having completed 547,978,000 records so far, FamilySearch indexing has had notable success. However, those who coordinate indexing have a new goal: indexing records in languages other than English.

“More and more of the names we are indexing aren’t English names,” said Jim Ericson, product marketing manager for FamilySearch. “We are trying to get people who speak different languages more involved so we can do a better job with non-English names.”

Although indexing in English continues to grow, it is far surpassed by the growth of international records. Projects are emerging from a variety of countries as more governments and records custodians become aware of the services provided by FamilySearch, Brother Ericson said.

To begin, FamilySearch employees take records and digitize them. These copies are then gathered into small groups called “batches,” available to volunteers online. Volunteers log into FamilySearch, download a batch, and enter the data they see on the screen. That data is later made available more widely to family history researchers.

FamilySearch indexing volunteers might include people whose native language is not English (the site is currently available in 11 different languages), but it could also include people who have language skills from missionary service, school, or other training.

The Church owns some 2.4 million rolls of genealogical microfilm, totaling some 15 billion records to be indexed. Countless other physical records exist throughout the world.

“We need more people engaged in indexing,” Brother Ericson said, “and we are asking people to share this program with their friends and family members, whether or not they are members of the Church.”

FamilySearch indexing coordinators have a new goal for volunteers: indexing in languages other than English.

Photograph by Welden C. Andersen, © IRI